Polling has begun to elect Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies. Bypolls will also be held to 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states.
In Maharashtra, where the ‘Mahayuti’ alliance of BJP, Shiv Sena and smaller parties is against the ‘Maha-agadhi’ led by the Congress and the NCP, a total of 8,98,39,600 people, including 4,28,43,635 women, are eligible to vote.
As many as 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are contesting in 288 seats and 96,661 polling booths are in place with 6.5 lakh staff for the voting exercise.
The ruling BJP is locked in a contest with the opposition Congress and the fledgling JJP for the 90 assembly seats in Haryana which has over 1.83 crore voters, including 85 lakh women and 252 transgenders, while 19,578 polling stations have been set up.
Polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm. Tight security arrangements have been made with deployment of more than three lakh personnel from state police and central forces in Maharashtra, while over 75,000 security personnel have been mobilised in Haryana.
Counting of votes will be on October 24.
The bypoll for Satara Lok Sabha constituency will also be held on October 21. Former NCP leader and sitting MP Udayanraje Bhosale is in the fray from the seat on a BJP ticket against Shriniwas Patil of the Congress-NCP combine.
Voting will also be held in by-polls to Samastipur (Bihar) Lok Sabha seats which was held by Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
In Maharashtra, the prominent candidates in the fray are Chief Minister Fadnavis and his predecessors from Congress, Ashok Chavan, who is in fray from Bhokar in Nanded district, and Prithviraj Chavan seeking re-election from Karad South in Satara district.
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, is contesting from Worli in Mumbai. The 29-year-old is the first from the Thackeray family to make debut in electoral politics.
In Haryana, the Congress is hoping to make a comeback following a change in guard in the state, while the BJP led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has set a target of winning 75 seats out of 90 in which 1,169 candidates of various political outfits are contesting.
Currently, the BJP has 48 members in state assembly.
In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP for the first time came to power in Haryana winning 47 seats. It won the Jind bypolls earlier this year, taking its total strength in the state assembly to 48. The INLD had 19 MLAs while the Congress has 17 legislators. The BSP and the SAD had bagged one seat each in the last polls while five were Independents.
Voting will also be held in by-polls to 51 assembly seats spread across 17 states.
The BJP and its allies had nearly 30 of these assembly seats, while the Congress had won 12 and the rest were with regional parties.
Among the states ruled by the BJP and its allies, the maximum 11 seats will have by-polls in Uttar Pradesh, followed by six in Gujarat, five in Bihar, four in Assam and two each in Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The other states where by-polls will be held are Punjab (4 seats), Kerala (5 seats), Sikkim (3 seats), Rajasthan (two seats) and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Telangana.
The exercise is coinciding with assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the first major elections after the BJP retained power in the Lok Sabha polls in April-May winning 303 seats out of 543.